5 Things to Know from Emma Watson’s HeForShe Facebook Q&A on International Women’s Day
Watson, who is the U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador, gave a rousing address on feminism last September, which was around the time she launched the HeForShe campaign, which calls men and women to stand up together as advocates for gender equality.
The British actress, who has 30 million fans on Facebook, opened up about topics like gender equality, wage discrimination, roles imposed upon men, and “the Fappening” during the live hour-long discussion.
Here are five things to take away from her Q&A, which can be viewed in full in the video above:
1. After Watson’s passionate speech at the U.N. in September, the actress was threatened by misogynists within 12 hours of speaking to have nude photos released.
She said, “After I gave my speech in September, there was a website set up threatening to release naked photographs of me with a countdown. I knew it was a hoax—I knew the pictures didn’t exist—but I think a lot of people close to me knew gender equality was an issue, but they didn’t really think it was that urgent.
“Then when they saw the minute I stepped up and talked about women’s rights, I was immediately threatened—in less than 12 hours I was receiving threats—I think [men] were really shocked. One of my brothers was very upset. So, I think it was a wake-up call of, ‘Oh, this is a real thing that’s really happening now. Women are receiving threats in all sorts of different forms—that was just one specific one.’”
The hoax also made her angry and far from discouraged.
“I was upset that the media immediately reported it as fact without any evidence to the contrary. It really just publicized something that was really, really negative. It’s funny because people went, ‘Oh, she’s going to be disheartened by this.’ If anything, it made me so much more determined. I was just raging. It made me so angry that I was just like, ‘This is why I have to be doing this!’”
2. Feminism is not just a woman’s word, it’s for everyone. Watson said people are coming back to the “actual definition,” which is “equality politically, culturally, socially, economically.”
The HeForShe pledge is for men to sign (200,000 have done so) and says, “Gender equality is not only a women’s issue, it is a human rights issue that requires my participation. I commit to take action against all forms of violence and discrimination faced by women and girls.”
Watson commented, “Men think it’s a women’s word. But what it means is that you believe in equality, and if you stand for equality, then you’re a feminist. Sorry to tell you. You’re a feminist. You’re a feminist. That’s it.”
On why people might be reluctant to label themselves a feminist, Watson commented, “I think people associate it with hate—with man-hate—and that’s really negative. I don’t think that’s what feminism is about at all. I think it’s something incredibly positive… I’m aware of a lot more male feminists now than I was a few years ago, and it’s really heartening.”
3. On the issue of wage and gender equality in the workplace, Watson was asked by an audience member if she was paid less than her male co-stars in the Harry Potter films (Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint).
She responded eloquently, “I don’t think I would ever even dream of complaining about my personal circumstances, but yes, there is a big problem in my industry—in the film industry, and the industry in which I work.
“Currently, females comprise 7 percent of directors, 7 percent of writers, 2.2 percent of producers, and 13 percent of executives. And you know when you have a female writer or a female director, there’s a higher representation of women. So that’s a pretty huge problem which needs to be addressed.”
Watson also added, “Just don’t let anyone tell you what you can and cannot do or can and cannot achieve. Just don’t allow it. Just do not allow it. It’s wrong. It’s so wrong. Be whatever you want to be.”
4. Watson touched upon on chivalry versus sexism, and recounted a recent date in which she tried to pay.
“I actually took a man out for dinner and I chose the restaurant and I offered to pay, and it was really awkward and uncomfortable. It was not going down well,” she recalled.
“I’m sure he would say he’s a feminist, but he was like, ‘Oh, I’m not really sure about this.’ It made him feel a bit tetchy. But the cool thing about it was we were both willing to have the conversation about why it was awkward, or why it was uncomfortable.”
She then added, “The key is that chivalry should be consensual.”
What about opening the door? “I love having the door opened for me,” Watson replied. “Isn’t that just polite? Isn’t that just a nice thing to do for someone else? And I love being taken out to dinner. So great. But I think the key is, would you then mind if I open the door for you?
“Then I’m polite, and you’re polite, then we’re making the world a better place with this small, kind, polite gesture.”
5. HeForShe is not an initiative focused on “saving” women.
Watson said, “I think that’s a misunderstanding. Women are already in the club, because it’s our movement. It’s an equality club, for both genders. It’s about men coming in support of women and women coming in support of men.”
Her pilot program Impact 10x10x10 strives in this vein to encourage corporations, governments, universities, and private citizens to extend their support to HeForShe, and get more men to sign the petition.
Watson continued, “Gloria Steinem gave a speech last week at a HeForShe event in New York, and she used this really beautiful metaphor. She said that the human race is like a bird. and it needs both of its wings to be able to fly. And at the moment, one of its wings is clipped. And we’re never going to be able to fly as high unless we’re both in support of each other.”
On Watson’s Facebook, the videos of this Q&A have each been viewed almost a million times.
Since September, Watson’s passionate speech has been viewed over 17 million times on Youtube (and counting).
Watson thanked fans for their support on her Instagram: